Nigeria – In a country where child kidnapping is a regular norm, children are now showing signs of fear of attending school. Jihadists have resorted to strange means to secure funds to meet their selfish needs. One of them is kidnapping school-going children for ransom.
According to figures shared by Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, almost 12 million children are scared of going to school in the country, where jihadists and heavily armed criminals have kidnapped hundreds of students for ransom.
Children, if lucky is released without having lost their time and innocence living with the militants. Girl children are kidnapped too; some are raped and forced to engage in constant sex with militants until they grow off age and become mothers. Some have been known to be released after years of captivity.
The first mass school abduction in Africa’s most populous nation was in the northeast in 2014, when Boko Haram jihadists snatched 276 girls from Chibok, triggering a global campaign called #BringBackOurGirls. Cases of kidnapping have been on the rise since December last year. Gunmen in the northwest and central Nigeria have increasingly targeted schools, kidnapping more than 1,000 students.
Save the Children said earlier this month that an “estimated 44 percent of girls in Nigeria are married before their 18th birthday, one of the highest rates of child marriage globally.”
Despite best efforts by the countries military forces, children run the risk of being victims of kidnapping for ransom. While military operations are underway across the country to prevent this from happening, security forces are often described as overstretched and overwhelmed. In September itself, children kidnapped were released by Nigerian goons and militants. Of them, only 200 children returned alive of 1000 that were abducted two months ago. Just days later, more had again been abducted, current news had claimed.
Most of the gunmen were believed to be themselves young men from the Fulani ethnic group who had traditionally worked as nomadic cattle herders before turning to the profitable crime of abducting children for ransom. Of those missing comprise mostly girls. Many of these goons that have picked children from northwest regions of Nigeria, also comprise militants with links to the Islamic militants long active there.